2nd Spark! Cohort Kicks-off Virtual Program to Grow Local Small Businesses

Posted on September 21, 2020
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Ten local entrepreneurs have been selected to participate in the second annual Spark! — a local small-business pre-accelerator program developed by the Venture Center and the Little Rock Regional Chamber to provide opportunities, exposure and company growth for local entrepreneurs.

Through mentorship, group sessions, expert-led workshops, feedback on pitches and the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in a pitch contest, Spark! helps entrepreneurs refine the tools they have and acquire the ones they need.

The basis of this accelerator? Empowerment and access to resources.


— Wayne Miller, Executive Director of The Venture Center

Meet the 2020 cohort

  • Khadijah Williams of Jackie’s Mobile Cafe

    • Jackie’s Mobile Cafe focuses on freshness, believing that the first meal of the day should taste as good as the last. Primarily located in Little Rock, the food truck travels throughout the state, partnering with local bakeries and farmers to source best ingredients.

  • Lisa Carver and Becky Parkerson of RampUp

    • Functioning as a part-time human resources employee, RampUp offers one-stop, virtual human resource solutions for businesses looking for the kind of approach Google could never offer — expert advice and proven tools to address their diverse needs.

  • Misti Staley of Staley House, LLC

    • Staley House LLC was founded by Misti Staley to manufacture the FreeArm Tube Feeding Assistant, which is an FDA-registered medical device that helps in the tube feeding of babies, children and others. She and her husband invented the device after the loss of their 10-month-old son, Freeman Ellis Staley, to pulmonary hypertension in 2015.

  • Jamie Washington of Hello Beautiful Mastectomy Boutique 

    • Through Hello Beautiful Mastectomy Boutique, Jamie Washington offers a variety of beauty services including mastectomy bra fittings and hair replacement services along with other things to help restore the confidence, self-esteem, and physical appearance of those suffering from or survivors of breast cancer.

  • Keneasha Scott of K Scott Consults, LLC

    • For anyone looking for insight in how to upgrade their company, K Scott Consults, LLC provides comprehensive consultations to help identify gaps and opportunities and then develops timelines, milestones, a cost analysis, and a schedule to help keep you on track.

  • Michele Wright of MY WATER BUDDY AND FAMILY INC. 

    • My Water Buddy, Inc. uses an engaging cast of creative, fun, relatable, and aspirational characters fashioned as anthropomorphic organs to promote the benefits of drinking water and educates children and their families about the benefits of achieving a more fulfilling quality of life through a healthier body.

  • Colby Butler of houseofcolby

    • The House of Colby is an American fashion house created by Colby Butler and known for formal women’s wear and haute couture clothing for all genders.

  • Cynthia Williams of Educational Research and Consulting, PLLC

    • Educational Research and Consulting, PLLC is a minority and woman owned, independent, nonpartisan, for-profit small business that uses consulting to help people improve issues in education, particularly as it relates to social, cultural, and other disadvantaged populations, to inform policy through research, and to assist practitioners with making research-based approaches relevant to their specific practices.

  • Tamaya Walker of Sisters and Suitcases, LLC

    • Sisters and Suitcases provides women of color solo-travelers the opportunity to join a global travel community by offering custom-built immersive and interactive travel experiences and curated events that include cultural, educational and physical experiences, connect travelers with locals and other like minded women, and provide a safe-space and fun community.

  • Joel Pumphrey of Pumpfreeze Heat-N-Air

    • Pumpfreeze Heat-N-Air provides quality and affordable HVAC services including repairs, maintenance and installs.

A look back & this year’s agenda

Last year, during the inaugural Spark! in the fall of 2019, a cohort of six Arkansas companies completed the inaugural Spark! program – Cyclone Technology, Idestini, Readthelabl, Listing Village, SYI Construction and Apex Dental Education.

All six company founders and their team members participated in weekly “mind sharing sessions,” subject-matter expert workshops and pitch critiques. By the end of the 14-week program, all company founders could effectively pitch their business and make strategic business decisions positively affecting their companies.

In light of COVID-19, many of the on-site benefits for this second season of Spark! were reconsidered to continue providing value to the 2020 cohort in a virtual setting.

At this year’s event, these 10 entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to participate in a virtual Lunch ‘N Learn panel discussion and attend weekly virtual meetings. You may also see them taking part in virtual social activities and in Union, The Venture Center’s new virtual mentorship platform.

Planning ahead

Are you interested in participating in the next Spark! program? As long as you meet our criteria of being a central Arkansas resident, a full-time founder in business for 1-5 years, and an annual verifiable revenue of $25,000 – 100,000, we would love to see your application! Visit https://www.venturecenter.co/spark to learn more.